Dear Friends in Christ:
In preparing for this letter, I looked up last year’s Christmas letter which began, “Our hearts are filled with joy this day and all creation exalts in praise, for Salvation has come to the world in Jesus Christ! This is our faith and this is what gives meaning to our lives.” I am not so certain that is the case for everyone this Christmas. Indeed 2020 and COVID-19 have cast a pall over our lives. This has been a year unlike any other year for most of us. This has been a year of death, illness, fear, worry, anger and stress. I am confident that 2020 will not be called a year of joy. Yet even in the midst of the pandemic, we as the disciples of Jesus must still rejoice. The exuberant command of St. Paul to the Philippians is now being addressed to each one of us, “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” (Phil 4:4) As Christians, we can never forget that Jesus has changed the world. Sin and death have no power over us because the love of God has conquered them. Because of Jesus, we have a new hope, a new horizon and a new home that awaits us.
The deaths of so many people who have died from COVID are extremely sad. Likewise, having so many who became very ill from the virus is sad. What is also sad is the tremendous fear and anxiety that so many have lived with during this past year. Fear, anger, despair and judgmentalism have infected far more people than the coronavirus. Thanks be to God, it now appears that we have a vaccine and therapeutic protocols that will enable us to deal with this deadly virus. There is a light at the end of the epidemiological tunnel. But where is the vaccine and the therapy to heal the tremendous emotional and spiritual pain that has been suffered by so many men, women and children? For the broken marriages, torn relationships, suicides, depression and on-going isolation, Pfizer, Moderna and Astrazeneca have no solution. Another relief check from the U.S. Treasury cannot heal the wounds that have been inflicted and that so many suffer and will continue to suffer long after the virus is gone.
More than anything else, 2020 and COVID-19 have taught us that the world needs Jesus. You and I need Jesus. We do not need the idea of Jesus or Jesus as an ancient moral teacher. We need Jesus as our Lord and Savior and as our friend. Despite our boldness, bluster and bravado, we are all weak and fragile. Within a matter of weeks, a small virus, invisible to the naked eye, turned our entire world upside down and turned us against one another. Our weakness and our sinfulness came into full display with every angry look and snide comment. Our need of salvation and healing is clear and so is the fact that we cannot save and heal ourselves. The world needs Jesus and we need Jesus in our lives. We need Jesus to lead us and guide us. We need Jesus who is always ready to listen and is attentive to our prayers. We need Jesus who is always there to comfort us and give us strength. We need Jesus who is always there to forgive and bring healing to our souls.
COVID-19 might be new but sin and death are not. The remedy for sin and death can only be found in Jesus. The power of Jesus is nothing other than the power of love, the power of mercy and the power of hope. In Jesus, creation received divinity and humanity received redemption. But what Jesus most desires is for each of us to receive Him into our hearts. The world still shows its brokenness and new scars are added each day. But Jesus, the baby in a manger who became the man on the cross, desires to heal our brokenness and comfort our pain. With Jesus, hearts that are broken are restored anew. With Jesus, lives weighed down under the burden of despair are renewed and filled with hope. With Jesus, the darkness of sin, death, doubt and grief are shattered by a light that cannot be extinguished. Jesus is waiting and wanting to heal us from all our ills. Welcome Him with joy!
In pace Christi,